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The general purpose of a project evaluation is to facilitate stakeholders in making informed judgments about the merit or worth of a program, using verifiable evidence. The key objective is to facilitate truth telling about the consequences of implementing the project.
In 1 John 1:5-10 John is passing a message from Jesus along to us. The message is simple but profound – God is light. In God there is no darkness, there is only light.
For the Christian evaluator there are both personal and professional implications for the way we do our work. At a personal level, if I claim to be walking with Jesus, but I am walking in darkness, I am lying. I cannot walk with Jesus and stay in darkness. If I am in darkness I cannot walk with Jesus.
The realm of darkness includes lying to myself about my condition. The most important aspect of my condition is the rightness of my relationship with God. If I have promised God that I will be a faithful and responsible husband and father, but I come home from the office too tired to attend to the needs of my wife and children, then I am walking in darkness.
If I have no time to regularly mediate on God’s word, the word that gives guidance on how to walk with Jesus moment by moment, day by day, regardless of the circumstances, then chances are I am walking in darkness.
If I fail to follow through on my commitments and promises to others, regardless of the good work I may be doing elsewhere, then I am walking in darkness. If I recognize my failures to follow through, but I do not take the initiative to do what I can to heal the hurts that I have caused, then I am walking in darkness.
As an evaluator there are times when I point out things that have gone wrong. Perhaps specific project objectives have not been achieved as promised, or community people have not been treated respectfully by a staff person. If I point out such things in a way that diminishes people, rather than build them up, then professionally I am walking in darkness. My conclusion may be supported by verifiable evidence, but my manner of communicating it determines whether I am walking in the light.
If I fail to point out problems because I am afraid of the discomfort that may ensue in the discussions with stakeholders, then I am walking in darkness.
If I state conclusions that are weakly supported by the evidence, and do not describe the quality and strength of the evidence, then I am not telling the truth.
If I state conclusions that require recommendations, but I do not involve appropriate staff or others in developing reasonable recommendations, then I am denying people an opportunity to confront reality in ways that encourage confession and acceptance of forgiveness. Only those who confess their sins, trusting that God will show them the way forward toward righteousness, can walk in the light.
Lord, instruct me about walking in the light in all my thinking and acting. Amen.